My general thoughts and feelings on Trump’s constant attacking of Jeff Sessions is that it’s disgraceful and shows poor leadership to be attacking a loyal subordinate in such a passive aggressive (and sometimes not so passive) and very public way. Sessions isn’t in some random cabinet post; he’s the Attorney General, and almost everything that Trump wants in domestic policy depends on Sessions. That’s doubly true when you’re talking about issues like immigration. Sessions is really the only “Trumpist” in the cabinet. Everyone else could care less about Trump’s ideas. So without Sessions; there is no logical replacement (or at least one that the Senate would confirm-Sorry Kris Kobach) to carry on Trump’s policies. Regardless of what happened to the rest of Trump’s Presidency, Trumpism would be over.
So why would Trump be acting in such a crazy way? CNN has beclowned itself trying to puzzle that one out, but going through the interwebs, I’ve seen 4 theories that might explain Trump’s attack on his only ally, Jeff Sessions.
One. Trump’s a madman.
In this case, Trump is just as he appears to be. He’s gone into a rage because of the Mueller investigation, and can’t stop himself from sniping at Sessions because he doesn’t really want to fire him but wants him gone and hopes if he is humiliated publicly often enough, Sessions will just resign. Who Trump gets to replace him and how that takes care of his Mueller issue are just problems for another day. The main thing is to get rid of someone who Trump feels failed him. That this will damage him with a large section of the conservative base doesn’t matter. Trump angry now!
Two. Trump is Mr. Magoo.
This is the theory of the Lion of the Blogosphere. According to the Lion, Trump is just bouncing around from situation to situation, but through sheer luck and happenstance; he winds up smelling like a rose. Trump’s speech in which he mentioned the effects of immigration in Sweden is a good example. After making a comment about the problems being caused in Sweden by immigrants, Trump was roundly mocked on social media and the weekend political shows, only to have immigrant riots break out in Sweden days later. Was Trump a prescient social scientist, or did he get lucky on counting on Muslims being Muslim? My magic 8 ball says “signs point to yes.” In any case, Trump one; Media smart-asses zero.
Three. Trump is pulling a professional wrestling “work.” Having worked with professional wrestling before, Trump is well aware how wrestling is much more like a soap opera for dudes than an athletic contest. There is a lot of drama in the wrestling story lines and sometimes a heel can get into a feud and then it turns out he has a secret alliance with the babyface! Yeah! The day is saved! In this scenario, Trump and Sessions are working together to draw out and crystallize support for Sessions by having Trump attacking him. Suddenly, every media person and Democrat (I know, same thing) who hated Sessions suddenly rush to his support. This gives Sessions freedom of action for things that will be unpopular to the Democrats/Media because if Trump is mad at Sessions, that must be good.
Four. 5D Chess. In the Scott Adams version, Trump is like Spock, if Spock were a New York real estate developer and hotel and casino owner. Actually, that’s not a bad idea for a Star Trek spin off: Star Trek: Las Vulcan. Where pleasure is logical… In this scenario, Trump is running all of the various media scenarios through his mind palace, war gaming the responses of the various media networks and politicians to insulate Sessions from future criticism similar to theory three; set a public distance between Sessions and Trump to give Sessions a free hand.
Which do I think is the mostly likely? Well I think we’ve seen signs of all four over the course of the Trump campaign and Presidency, although there could well be a lot of overlap. When Trump tweeted the punching CNN gif, did he know what the media reaction would be and that it ultimately would make the media look extremely stupid, or did he Mr Magoo his way into that situation? It’s hard to say. There is a lot of overlap between theories one and two and theories three and four. But when it comes to Sessions, I hope it’s a theory three & four scenario, but I fear it may be a theory one & two.